An essential part of the mummification process involved removing the internal organs of the deceased and placing them in canopic jars. By the New Kingdom, the four jars were fashioned in the likenesses of the four sons of Horus, falcon-headed Qebeh-senu-ef, human-headed Imsety, jackal-headed Dua-mutef and baboon-headed Hapi, represented in the present example. Each god was meant to protect a particular organ, with the lungs being entrusted to Hapi.
The use of pigments mixed in a medium of beeswax and applied to the surface of alabaster was typical of the reign of Ramesses II and continued into the later Ramesside period. It is most frequently used on large stone vessels associated with the preparation of the mummy, shabtis, and, as here, canopic vessels. According to P. Lacovara, "The pigments included blue derived from powdered blue frit, green from ground malachite, yellow that was made from an arsenic sulphide known as 'orpiment,' red from iron oxide as in red ochre, and black from simple carbon black." (see pp. 124-125 in P. Lacovara, B.T. Trope and S. H. D'Auria, eds, The Collector's Eye: Masterpieces of Egyptian Art from The Thalassic Collection, Ltd).